• Mary Anderson

The Hungry Hiker

Before leaving her home in Vermont to begin hiking the Continental Divide Trail, Mary got out her food dryer and prepared several months’ worth of meals. These she packed into boxes and mailed to strategic points along the trail. She often sets out from a food drop with at least a week’s worth of food on her back. Her last pickup, on June 28, was at the post office in East Glacier, where she also collected a package of homemade cookies from Sally Penrod of Randolph, Vermont. The cookies were shared with other hikers. The rest of the food went off with Mary into the Bob Marshall Wilderness, where it will be hung each night in a bearproof sac at least 25 feet aboveground. In case you’re wondering: You put some rocks in a small sac, tie a rope around the sac, and toss the sac over a tree limb. Then you tie the other end of the rope around your food sac and pull. When I asked Mary if she had done this before, she laughed. —ST


A Backpacker’s Diet: What I Eat Most Days

  • 1.5 cups high-calorie granola with dehydrated orange juice in it

  • At least one package of organic vitamin-C-enriched gummy bunnies

  • At least one granola bar

  • Two other energy bars, such as a Clif bar and a Lara bar

  • Some cookies

  • 1/8 pound of crackers

  • Peanut butter, almond butter, or a foil package of tuna, sometimes supplemented with a few ounces of cheese or some jerky

  • One of the following meals:


⅓ pound precooked organic whole wheat spaghetti, which I then mix with either (1) cheese, garlic, dried veggies, and some dried egg, or (2) tomato sauce, garlic, and eggplant parmesan. Dried, it weighs 5 ounces. I boil water, put it in, turn off the heat, and let it soak 10 minutes or so. I made a cozy out of foil-backed bubble wrap for my pot that keeps it warm for half an hour.


Dried potatoes mixed with dried egg and veggies, garlic, cheese, and dried meat.

  • 2-ounce Nature's Bakery fig bar, either raspberry or blueberry flavored

  • Chocolate protein powder mixed with a pint of water.

  • Some electrolyte or vitamin C drink mix

  • Candied ginger, especially at high altitude

  • A few handfuls of nuts and dried fruit

  • A cup of soothing nighttime tea

This is seldom enough to really fill me up. They say you can only digest 4,000 calories a day, which is why you need some down days stuffing the calories. In town I could eat a whole large pizza, a half gallon of ice cream, a half gallon of fruit juice, and almost a whole chicken. I've sat at a store and eaten a few thousand calories in one go. I also go for fresh fruit and veggies when available. And with all of this, I usually lose weight. Some way to diet, huh?

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